Three Mile Island partial meltdown described as chaotic, still vivid memory for many

LONDONDERRY TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. - March 28th, 1979, the day of the nation's worst nuclear accident, happened at Three Mile Island.

"It was just chaos," said Kim Graffin, who was 8-years-old at the time of the accident. "Because there was no plan back then."

The unit two reactor at TMI partially melted down, releasing radiation into the air.

"We didn't know what to trust," said Deanne Cronin, who was 12-years-old at the time of the accident. "What to hear, if it was real."

People were at work, kids at school when the news broke.

"I just remember chaos," said Graffin. "Being told to get under your desks until the buses would come or your parents."

People scrambling to get home, to figure out what to do, where to go.

"I remember looking outside with people who look like they were wearing tin foil yelling, "evacuate, evacuate!" said Cronin.

Families were being given conflicting information on whether or not to evacuate. Both Cronin's and Graffin's  families evacuated, although a week later they came back home to get on with life as normal.

"Us kids, we were all outside skateboarding, helicopters still flying around measuring for radiation," said Graffin. "I do remember that but we're out here playing [thinking] there's nothing wrong."

In the days and weeks following, people living nearby felt they were not being given the answers they needed as to how much radiation was released into the air. The partial meltdown began just before four in the morning, but it wasn't until 7 a.m. that an emergency was declared.

"I felt like we were not told enough at the time," said Graffin. "It seemed like people outside of the area knew more than we did."

For Graffin, Cronin and many others who lived through TMI's accident, they remember that day so vividly every single time they see the units.

"It ticks me off," said Cronin. "It ticks me off that they don't care."

Like other who lived near TMI during the accident, both Cronin and Graffin have had problems with their thyroids. A story on the health impacts people believed were caused by TMI can be found here.

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